We crowd round the winner. 'Any advice for bald people out there?'

DICKIE FANTASTIC on the schmooze

It is Thursday, and the grand climax - after four long, arduous years - of the Hair Grower of the Year competition. Today, one man, deemed to have most successfully grown his hair back from baldness, will receive a check for pounds 10,000 from Radio 2's Ken Bruce at a star-studded media event at the Savoy. And what a long, crazy four years it's been. Since 1992, hundreds of contestants from across the country have been drinking 1 1/2 litres of water while hanging upside-down by their feet and thinking non- stressful thoughts. And the finalists certainly look non-stressed. Still bald, admittedly, but non-stressed.

"Think of them as like the Wright brothers," says hair-growing svengali Andy Bryant. "The Wright brothers only flew for 59 seconds. But they showed that it could be done."

"But they're still bald," I say.

"No they're not," says Andy. "Look."

He shows me a "before" photograph of James Oldham. He looks semi-bald. Then he points to a semi-bald man in the crowd.

"That's James now," he says.

"Still semi-bald," I mutter.

"Half a centimetre on average!" says James. "That's how much his hair has grown back. The tip of the nose to the hairline measurement has remained a constant 14.5cm, but the width of the bald crown has reduced from 8.5cm to 6cm. And that's something."

And I guess it is, when they said it couldn't be done. But four years for half a centimetre, when a trip to the wig shop takes mere minutes, if they're so hair self-absorbed... Who can understand people sometimes? But today, the nation's media are at least trying to understand. I rather thought I'd be the only journalist here, and would consequently be compelled to make awkward small-talk with deluded bald men for hours. But the room is packed. There are hundreds of us here.

And when the judging actually starts, and the contestants sit in a chair while four besuited experts crowd around each bald pate and run their fingers through the remaining hair, testing for shine, viscosity, density, and the like, and 200 journalists are giggling like children underneath their hands; well - I can't think of anyone in the world I'd like to be less than a grand-finalist in the Hair Grower of the Year contest. The assertively unstressed competitors suddenly start to appear decidedly tense, and the terrible irony could be that, after four years of hanging upside-down and eating the right sorts of vegetables, all that good work could be undone by one high-profile media day at the Savoy, followed by an awful, ignoble evening of being the funny story at the end of the news.

The winner turns out to be James Oldham, and we crowd around and pretend to be genuinely excited.

"How do you feel?"

"Great."

"Any advice for bald people out there?"

"I did it, and so can you."

"What's the secret of your success?"

"No stress, hanging upside-down, drinking 1 1/2 litres of water, and eating the right sorts of vegetables."

"Any message for people with wigs?"

"I did it and so can you."

And so on.

Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood

'Whether he left is almost immaterial'TV
Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power